At its more than 1,900 U.S. and Canadian locations, Applebee’s transforms each of its outposts into a neighborhood hangout via friendly service and unique atmospheric details. Inside, diners will find each restaurant decorated with relaxing warm tones and personal touches specific to the community, such as hometown sports memorabilia and in-person updates from the local weatherman.
Sourced from across the country, the restaurant's executive culinary team gathers chefs who have cooked at the highest levels, from upscale restaurants to major-league baseball teams. The result is a menu that reinvents traditional American favorites with modern flavors and ingredients. Chefs give many dishes a fun, kid-friendly flavor by turning entrees into finger food such as the quesadilla burger and wonton tacos, but they don’t throw knives and forks to the wind—staying true to classics such as slow-cooked ribs and sizzling cuts of steak.
In Spanish, “parrilla” means “grill,” an apt name for the Latin American–inspired eatery, which specializes in Mexican, Central American, and South American cuisine served “a la parrilla.” Grilled steak, gulf shrimp, and marinated pork shoulder flavor La Parrilla’s specialty tacos, quesadillas, and taquitos, but the restaurant doesn’t limit itself to omnivore-only fare. In fact, it has earned praise from many local and rabbit-run publications for its vegetarian options, such as the veggie empanadas, portobello quesadilla, and chili relleno stuffed with onions, cheese, and cilantro. Bartenders craft tropical cocktails including lime, strawberry, and peach margaritas from a selection of more than 10 tequilas, including a made-in-house chili-infused tequila.
In 2008, Culinary Institute of America alum Dan Janssen and four friends camped out to secure a spot in the Great Lenexa BBQ Battle. Dan immediately began training for the event, honing his recipes and asking friends and family to taste-test each smoky cut during weekend get-togethers. Great Lenexa, it turned out, was just the tip of the dry-rubbed iceberg. Over the next few years, Dan and his culinary crew refined their dishes, expanded their menu, and began raking in the ribbons—including five awards in the 2013 American Royal Barbeque Contest, taking 3rd place overall in sides and 5th place in beans.
Their barbecue is no longer a competition-only treat. The Rub Bar-B-Que & Catering makes it available to the Olathe area. Alongside classic pulled pork and beef sandwiches, Chef Dan showcases inventive dishes such as burritos filled with burnt ends, jalapeños, and pico de gallo. His menu also sports plenty for rib-enthusiasts, from 1/3 racks to full racks ideal for large groups or one very determined ant.
A fresh take on cooked-to-order burgers, Smashburger, winner of Sun Publication's Burger Wars, combines all the comforts of a well-stacked meal with the modest luxuries of expedient service and ample sit-down space. The menu boasts more smashes than two monster trucks playing tennis; Smashburgers ($4.99+ for a third-pound), grilled and crispy Smashchickens ($5.99+), Smashsalads ($4.99-6.99), and Smashsides such as rosemary and garlic-tossed Smashfries ($1.99–$2.99) fire up the hearts and bellies of all gracious guests. The Smashburger—100% Angus beef plus quality veggies and cheeses on a toasted artisan bun—takes center stage during most meals, and nonsecret specialties, such as the Häagen-Dazs shake ($3.99), keep mouths grounded, cool, and smiley. These two locations feature the Kansas City Smashburger, made with swiss cheese, grilled and haystack onions, sautéed mushrooms, and A.1. steak sauce ($5.99 for a third-pound).
Currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, Popeyes remains the flavorful lovechild of Cajun and Creole cooking, serving up a wide-ranging menu. Connoisseurs of crispiness can stick with Popeyes’ famous New Orleans–style fried chicken meals ($4.49–$6.89) surrounded with savory sides ($1.59–$3.79) such as warm flaky biscuits, red beans and rice, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, Cajun rice, and more. Otherwise, slather some livers and gizzards ($2.99–$5.49) onto a biscuit and eat it, temporarily imbuing you with the chicken’s mighty strength and ability to smell time. Avian-averse appetites can feast instead on a shrimp po’ boy combo ($6.19) with a pecan pie ($1.49) or Mississippi mud pie ($1.99) for dessert. And to keep your famished family from impeaching you and electing a new parent, quell multi-person appetites with bona fide family meals ($10.49–$30.99).
Planet Sub sidesteps the flavorless land mines of days-old bread, opting for filling-packed subs and sandwiched meaty delights. The menu may differ slightly between the two locations, but omnipresent signature subs cross state lines to sate hungering masses, such as the bacon-bolstered mega roast beef ($4.69/$7.29 ) and the Planet BBQ, a saucy concoction stacked with ham, turkey, and roast beef ($3.99/$6.99 ). Vegetarian options abound, so meat abstainers can try the spicy cheese sub ($4.49/$6.99 ) or the pesto bello ($4.99/$7.19), which is loaded with portobello mushrooms, red peppers, and a tomato-garlic pesto as smooth and suave as an Italian R&B crooner.